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Esther Ralston’s Beauty Salon

Who wouldn’t want to look like a Hollywood star?

Esther Ralston—“The American Venus”—cashed in on her famous face in 1931 with an eponymous beauty salon at Cahuenga Boulevard and Yucca Street.

“The perfect shop for the particular woman,” Esther’s prided itself on being an expert in “all lines of beauty culture,” offering facials, massages (manual and electric), permanent hair waves, a marble plunge pool, gymnasium for weight reduction, and baths of all varieties: Turkish, vapor, oil, violet ray, steam—and as advertised with a massive sign on the roof, Sulforall (a trendy gimmick promised to provide relief to achey joints and muscles).

Located in the heart of Hollywood, Esther’s felt more like a spa day in the Mediterranean.

(University of Southern California)

The lobby mimicked a villa courtyard, with tiled roofs, bubbling fountain, and opposing arched doorways: On the left, the bath department; on the right, the beauty parlor where each station was defined by its own singular color “with stress on black, lacquer red, green, and orchid.”

Esther’s also provided absolute privacy to its chic clientele—luxurious “resting rooms” could be reserved for extended R&R following treatments.

The Cahuenga storefront doubled as a beauty emporium, where Ralston peddled “perfect cremes” developed by her personal chemist and packed in ornamental jars.

Among the products exclusively sold at Esther’s: Golden Poppy Creme cleanser, Frostine cooling balm, and Turtle Creme, which promised to “take the place of all other cosmetics.” And with a price tag of $5 ($90 today, with inflation), it had better.

Ralston invested $150,000 in Esther’s (formerly Hollywood Baths), hoping to parlay her waning film career—which she blamed on retribution for refusing to sleep with MGM’s Louis B. Mayer—into a profitable beauty brand. However, within a few years the salon went out of business.

In 1977, the building was demolished. What stands there today is arguably Hollywood’s portal to hell: CVS.

CVS at the corner of Cahuenga and Yucca (Google)


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